U of T in Fiction

Selected Quotations

Quotations from novels mentioning the University of Toronto, selected by Margaret Fulford
With thanks to Winona McMorrow for suggesting several of these quotations.

(Please see also: Toronto in Fiction.)

The kitchen of Trinity College in the University, where she is the Assistant Manager, Daytime and Supper Meals, will have to survive without her today -- and maybe tomorrow too, if she is in the same mood. They owe her vacation days, anyhow, and sick leave. She has worked there five years now. And it is November. And she prays for March and April to come, to bring more warmth into her bones. But she likes the job, especially when she is on the supper shift, seeing all these young men, white and black and coloured, from Canada and England and the West Indies and Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and all over the world, all sitting close and chatting and chattering about their lectures and their classes in Philosophy and Law and Engineering, and gossiping and joking.
-- More, by Austin Clarke (2008)

At the exit turnstiles, a pair of plainclothes detectives are asking if anyone saw what happened, and one or two from the shaken crowd stop to give a statement. I keep walking. Up the last staircase to the street, where the blazing heat is almost welcome, an awakening discomfort. I cut on to the university campus, into the shade of the trees along Philosopher's Walk. Consciously refusing to think of anything but getting home.
-- The Killing Circle, by Andrew Pyper (2008)

Leonard had asked if he could borrow Kurtz's horse and wagon. For just a few hours. To take to the University of Toronto. Every day students arrived on campus by various means. Most would walk. From nearby housing and homes. Others came by bus. Others by streetcar. One or two or three at most -- eccentric to near madness or truly poor -- travelled on bicycles. But many undergraduates arrived in cars. All Papa-bought, of course. Donations from Daddy. Status symbols. Cadillacs with charisma, Buicks black and beautiful, Chryslers curvaceous, Mercurys, Lincolns. The appearance of a lowly Pontiac was a rarity. Stan, Harvey, Syd, and Leonard would watch enviously as girls, whose attractiveness seemed to increase with the monetary value of each car, were deposited at the bottom steps leading up to the entrance archways of these buildings of higher learning.
-- Baldwin Street, by Alvin Rakoff (2007)

One afternoon in September, Fitzgerald and Ming met accidentally on the lawn of King's College Circle in front of the Faculty of Medicine. They had been walking toward each other, and had noticed one another only once it was too late to discreetly change direction. The grass was singed brown in half-circles at the edges of the lawn where the sprinklers had not reached, and there was no shade of trees where they stood squinting at each other.
-- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, by Vincent Lam (2005)

Built in the mid-sixties and reportedly a cause of several of its architects' suicides, the Robarts Library building is a grotesquerie parodying scholarship: it supposedly imitates a peacock (with a hundred vigilant eyes) but looks more like a turkey. Raymond's routine is formed by this architecture, the elevator down to the Fisher basement for his research into rare books and first editions, the narrow escalator up to the fourth floor for journal articles, the reading room where if he keeps shifting he can always find the perfect quantity of light in the afternoon.
-- Raymond and Hannah, by Stephen Marche (2005)

And so, as Sarah made friends in the schoolyard and learned to skip double dutch, as she memorized the name of every prime minister since Confederation and sat the Senior Matriculation Examinations, as she joined a Zionist youth group at the urging of a classmate, as she rode the roller coaster and ate cotton candy at the Canadian National Exhibition, as she enrolled in honours French at the University of Toronto, as she took a part-time job shelving books at the University College library, as she kissed a boy she had met at a picnic, and as she laughed with the girls in her class, she remembered that there was something that kept her apart from these events. It was a distance less tangible than the absence of her mother tongue, yet simpler too: Some day, she would go home.
-- Mme. Proust and the Kosher Kitchen, by Kate Taylor (2003)

At the university, classes were filled with men returning from the war, and the tiny faculty of the geography department was strained to its limits. Athos planned his lectures, did his own research, and managed to get out of the flat each morning after hardly sleeping. Often I watched him board the tram with papers bulging out of his briefcase and his glasses still perched on the middle of his forehead.
-- Fugitive Pieces, by Anne Michaels (1998)

Rita had started school at the university downtown and was living on campus with Elena, their residence tucked away at the heart of the ivied island of quiet the campus formed in the city centre. It was early evening the first time I went by for her, sunset lighting fires in the leaded panes of the residence windows. Inside, trim young men in blue jeans and young women in cardigans and pleated skirts came and went, the air electric with the first tense promise of the beginning of term.
-- Where She Has Gone, by Nino Ricci (1997)

He had always loved Toronto; not the whole of it -- but parts. He loved the St George Campus and was glad to be back on its greens again, beneath its gothic horrors.
-- Headhunter, by Timothy Findley (1993)

At 8:20 one spring evening, Nanji had given his class their midterm test, and now stood with the test papers in one hand at the streetcar stop on the corner of College and St. George streets. Characteristically, head lowered, shoulders sagging, he was thinking of one student in particular.
-- No New Land, by M.G. Vassanji (1991)

Arrived at university on foot or on the Carlton-College Street cars, she would walk slowly up King's College Road past Convocation Hall and the School of Practical Science, where there were always boys whom she knew by sight, standing around at ten in the morning after their first classes, fingering their slide rules with professional ostentation and making remarks about the physical characteristics of the UC co-eds as they passed along.
-- Reservoir Ravine, by Hugh Hood (1979)

Beyond Kneibel's and the old brick houses, the Research Library rose, dark and sheer against the sky. This new Research Library was the latest addition to the City University complex. For the past couple of years the hammering and riveting had given Landon headaches, and though he was not against progress, he disliked this bulky gray pile of cement and glass which pressed itself so powerfully against the sky. The neighbourhood bully, awing all other buildings with a show of strength.
-- In the Middle of a Life, by Richard B. Wright (1973)

In the autumn of 1919 I entered University College, in the University of Toronto, as an honours student in history. I was not properly qualified, but five professors talked to me for an hour and decided to admit me based on some special ruling invoked on behalf of a number of men who had been abroad fighting.
-- Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies (1970)

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